HISTORY CHANNEL PRESENTS HOOKED: ILLEGAL DRUGS & HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY
EPISODE I: OPIUM, MORPHINE & HEROIN PART 1 OF 3
Opium is a narcotic resin produced from opium poppies (Papaver somniferum). It contains up to 16% morphine, an opiate alkaloid, which is most frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the black market. The resin also includes non-narcotic alkaloids, such as papaverine and noscapine. Opium is also known as afeem, and was called "God's Own Medicine" during its time of greatest popularity.
Morphine is a potent opiate analgesic drug and is the principal active agent in opium and the prototypical opiate. Like other opioids, e.g. diacetylmorphine (heroin), morphine acts directly on the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain, and at synapses of the nucleus accumbens in particular. Morphine is highly addictive when compared to other substances, and tolerance and physical and psychological dependences develop very rapidly.
Heroin is a natural opioid synthesized directly from the extracts of the opium poppy ("Papaver somniferum"). It is the 3,6-diacetyl derivative of morphine (hence diacetylmorphine) and is synthesised from it by acetylation. The white crystalline form is commonly the hydrochloride salt diacetylmorphine hydrochloride. It mimics endorphins and creates a sense of well-being upon entering the bloodstream (usually via intravenous injection, though it's known to be injected in the oral or even visual cavities, or smoked). It is thus used both as a pain-killer and a recreational drug. Frequent administration has a high potential for causing addiction and may quickly lead to tolerance, especially as compared to other substances, though occasional use may not lead to symptoms of withdrawal.